A fun skill learned (somewhat) while recovering from major surgery

If you’re recovering from fairly major surgery you might find out like I did that 1) you have no brain, 2) you can’t pay attention to things longer than about 3-5 minutes because of issue 1. This is what I found following my chest-splitting tumor removal at least. A combination of being exhausted, sick, and not really wanting to interact with people much lead me down an interesting path that evidently tickled the puzzle solving part of my brain.

TL;DR – took up opening locks using mostly tools I got from a cool presentation. Had fun. You might as well.

I learned to open locks, bump open locks, pick locks, bypass padlocks, rake, shim, and otherwise destroy any confidence I had in my doors holding off a devoted attacker for more than about six minutes (not that that’s how they’re going to enter.) or any padlock I possessed from locking up anything important for more than 10 seconds. I need new padlocks.

I’d probably first gotten the bug for opening stuff a year or two back when I was asked if I thought I could get a safe open for my inlaws. Grand-inlaws had passed and the note given to open it was, in retrospect, 1 number off of each position, the directions were reversed, and the number of rotations were all incorrect by one. I guess if you’re going to put it on paper mask it, but whatever.

YouTubing that model safe showed me that the directions and numbers of rotations were wrong, and when I got that the other I learned by listening. Cool beans, I had defeated a safe (although I had close enough to the numbers to defeat it by ear.) Its contents were greater than those of Al Capone’s vault but only for sentimental reasons.

I bought a lockpick training kit a couple of years back thinking that it amused me to be able to get into things, and beats me how it disappeared, but it was gone and I moved on. It was on my desk, it is no longer on my desk, things worth 80x more are on my desk. It wandered out never to be seen again… goodbye $29.

So we had a confluence of events happen these past couple of months. I had major surgery in February, I had an offer to attend a small presentation virtually called School of Lock (which I believe was held by these guys and sponsored by Egnyte, which has nothing to do with physical locks,) in which we were given a small sales pitch on a non-lock related software product by the sponsor company, and then had 5 lock cores and a lockpicking kit which had been mailed to us a week earlier… useful since mine disappeared. I did this, and while still drugged up on pain killers and pain, had a grand old time picking some pretty easy lock cores.

I completely forgot what Egnyte was presenting… I blame the medication… I remember saying I was going to check out something of their and yup, slept three days straight pretty much after.

Woo hoo… blew through 5 lock cores with no spool pins, serrated pins, or much… just enough to get the picking basics and enough to then subsequently learn my outer door has 3 security pins and that there had been no need to learn binding order on the initial practice set… oh well, it was a very basics course for IT people to play around with intro to locksport/opening.

I devoured everything that McNally Official had put out (amusing stuff, mostly YouTube Shorts shorter than my medicated attention span,) and then started looking at a few things from the Lock Picking Lawyer, and then a few things became roughly a third of his videos. I purchased a couple of Lishi tools with spacers (from Red Team Tools,) so I could practice with visual feedback and finished out some lockpicking channels on YouTube that were abandoned years ago.

I have probably watched every nondestructive method of entry for most things I encounter (other than cars, straight up not interested at the moment,) learned that a magnet can open a lot of smart locks that claim to be unpickable, and learned to open some old junk left at my work and determine what cut we would need for a new key.

I have no interest in going door to door shopping houses for drugs or easily accessible firearms, but if a friend gets locked out of their house I might be a quicker and much less expensive call than a locksmith, if they’re willing to wait for 10+ minutes for me to pick the door while complaining about my knees.

While I might ace a written test I’m still struggling with binding order on spool pins and how much tension to apply, especially when it’s 40 degrees out and raining sideways and I’ve almost mastered sitting in a comfy chair with a lock in my hands with next to no security.

For the most part while healing I was able to do this in a comfy chair, with some cores or a padlock. It was fun, gives you an entirely new view of what people do to feel secure and shatters that illusion. It’s solving one little clicky puzzle after the next.

I will note, I am indeed terrible still. I have the skills of a two month old. But it’s really fun. If I’m at your door going at the lock it’s like a zombie slowly shuffling toward you. You would have time to re-turn the deadbolt until the police arrived.

I will also note where I live it’s perfectly legal to purchase and pick a lock if you’re given permission. I read that some places it’s not so yeah… don’t there. If you’re young, wouldn’t advise carrying because as I learned well when I was driving garbage in Franklin, TN, police will decide anything is suspicious and a reason to detain you for 40 minutes.

Also, am I trying to sell you anything? Nope… just something fun to learn and as you can learn in many videos if you’ve got a couple of paperclips you’ve got a pick and turner. I have not paperclipped open anything other than a 2 pin lock so don’t take my word on it.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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